I have a confession to make: ever since the news broke of the Colorado movie massacre last week, I have been totally hooked on reading the news articles about it. Like, I think I might need an intervention. I seem to have an unhealthy intrigue about the entire situation.
There is very much that can be said about the tragedy, and especially much that has to do with theology. I doubt I’m the only one who has been increasingly thinking and pondering questions of good and evil over the past few days. That said, I consider myself grossly under-qualified to tackle any of these questions, especially in a forum other than the one inside my own head. So, while my thoughts are swirling with "why?s," "how could he?s" and "what if?s"… I will keep those to myself.
Another question has been brought to light recently, however, and it is this… "Why am I drawn to learn so much about this?" Seriously. Why am I like a moth to this tragedy’s lamp? What does that say about me and my heart?
Upon reflection, I’ve realized that this is not an isolated circumstance, either. I realize that my middle school fascination with the Holocaust falls into the same camp, as does my college-age obsession with reading Caringbridge sites, as does my desire to click on any and all facebook pages that say "Praying for… so and so" or "RIP so and so." It’s like I just need more information. I need to know what exactly happened and, if I can figure it out, why.
Is this all making me sound like a creepy person? Probably. But I know that I’m not the only one who feels this way and reads these things.
So I’m talking to my BF last night, and as he starts to stage the aforementioned intervention, I find myself trying to explain or defend my attraction to this information. I admit that while exposing myself to such details of evil and brokenness surely amps up my daily level of fear… these articles also weirdly allay my fear in the moment. I realize that I gain a feeling of control over my life and my health when I read and process all the details of these tragedies, health crises, and disasters. Something tells me that knowing the details of whatever-it-may-be will somehow help me avoid or prevent it from happening in my own life.
Yet, that is a GIANT lie, isn’t it? More, it is a compilation of lies – that we can control our fate, that we can know when or how we die, that we can remotely attempt to change God’s path for us. This thinking suggests that God can’t be trusted to either protect us from harm or bring us into His glorious kingdom in His perfect timing. Everything about this way of thinking is contrary to what God tells us about ourselves and about Him.
In fact, this lie is the lie. Let’s go back to the Garden for a minute and revisit the story of Adam and Eve. When Eve is tempted by Satan, he tells her of eating the fruit: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5). In fact, that very fruit tree is now referred to as "The tree of the knowledge of good and evil." And we all know that Adam and Eve took the fruit and ate… causing the fall of man, banishing themselves from the Garden, and inviting evil and sin into the world as we know it.
It’s easy to think of Adam and Eve as being very dumb in that moment. Why forfeit their everlasting life, their eternal communion with God, their peace, joy, and comfort for the knowledge of evil? What a bad trade-off. Yet, that is exactly what I’m doing, isn’t it? With every article I read, I am taking the fruit and listening to the lie that says "learn more of this evil… this knowledge will keep you safe," "take and digest this knowledge, it is good… you need it to live," "use this knowledge to take control over your life and death" … in essence, stop trusting God and start trusting yourself – "be like God."
Yikes. Clearly the great deceiver is still at work. "When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." (John 8:44)
In light of this revelation, I have made a commitment to myself: I will not be captivated by evil. I will not indulge the temptation that increased knowledge of evil will somehow protect or save me. For I already have a Savior and He has already rescued me from death and the power of sin. "But they have conquered him [Satan] by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death" (Revelation 12:11).